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Top Democrat Praises Trump for New UN Sanctions on North Korea


North Korean leader Kim Jong Un makes closing remarks at 5th Conference of Cell Chairpersons of the Workers' Party of Korea (WPK), Dec. 23 in this photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang, North Korea, Dec. 24, 2017.

New U.N. sanctions on North Korea have won rare praise for the Trump administration from a leading Democrat not known for his kind words for the president.

Maryland Senator Ben Cardin, the top Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee, called the U.S. sponsored resolution toughening sanctions "a good move" and a "major accomplishment."

"I give our team a lot of credit for getting that done," Cardin said on the Fox News Sunday broadcast.

"They're pretty strong additional sanctions to be imposed against North Korea because of their continued testing of ballistic missiles. So, that absolutely was a strong move forward and it was great to see China and Russia join us in that."

FILE - Senator Ben Cardin.
FILE - Senator Ben Cardin.

Cardin said the next step needs to be diplomacy. He says China and the United States must work with the "same strategy" to ease tensions and get North Korea to change directions.

The resolution that the Security Council passed unanimously Friday puts more limits on the amount of gasoline and diesel North Korea can import.

There will also be tighter inspections of ships suspected of illegally bringing in coal and oil to the North.

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley votes among other members of the United Nations Security Council to impose new sanctions on North Korea, at U.N. headquarters in New York, Dec. 22, 2017.
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley votes among other members of the United Nations Security Council to impose new sanctions on North Korea, at U.N. headquarters in New York, Dec. 22, 2017.

The resolution also orders all North Koreans working in foreign countries to return home within two years – a move aimed at cutting off a source of revenue for the Kim Jong Un regime.

His government regularly confiscates at least some of their earnings.

The United States estimates as many as 80,000 North Koreans work in China and at least 30,000 in Russia.

North Korea is calling the latest sanctions an "act of war" and "tantamount to a complete economic blockade."

A statement carried by the official North Korean news agency said Pyongyang "categorically rejects the resolution" and calls it an act of U.S. terror in reaction to the North's successful nuclear and missile programs.

"If the U.S. wishes to live safely, it must abandon its hostile policy...and learn to co-exist with the country that has nuclear weapons," the statement said. It threatened that all nations that back the resolution will "pay a heavy price."

Previous U.N. sanctions on the North have failed to deter it from testing missiles, pursuing nuclear weapons, and bring the North to the bargaining table.

The U.S. has rejected North Korea's offer to freeze its nuclear ambitions if the U.S. suspends military exercises on and near the Korean peninsula.

The Trump administration also wants China, North Korea's biggest ally – to lean more heavily on Pyongyang.

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